The Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS is a lens made specifically for use on the Fujifilm X Series range of cameras. The lens is described as an ultra-wide to standard zoom lens, making it a great choice for landscape photography. If you shoot Fuji X cameras, you may own or have at least tried this lens. Perhaps you have even considered purchasing this lens and are looking for information to help with your decision. This review is based on my personal use of this lens over the last several months. Scientific testing was not part of the review. You will not see sharpness charts or lens distortion graphs. On the contrary, you will read about my own experiences with the lens, how it feels and handles, and see some sample images. Hopefully, this article will be helpful for anyone that is considering adding this lens to their camera bag.
Before I move on, just a little background and disclaimer. I have owned the Fuji XT-1 for close to a year now. Although I still have my Canon 5D Mark III, the Fuji has become my go-to camera. It really is that good, at least for me. After some time with the camera, it became apparent that I needed a wide angle lens to use for landscapes. I would like to point out that this is a lens that I purchased for my own camera kit. I was not provided with a review copy by the manufacturer, nor am I receiving any benefit from Fuji for writing this review. Furthermore, I'm not trying to convince anyone to purchase the lens or to make the switch to Fuji. If you like Fuji, or are just curious, then by all means read on. If not, you may skip this one. No hard feelings.
What's the Big Deal with Wide Angle?
If you shoot a full-frame camera, especially one from Canon or Nikon, maybe this isn't a big deal. There are excellent wide angle lens options for those camera systems. For crop sensor cameras, regardless of manufacturer, the choices are more limited. Don't get me wrong, there are some pretty good choices. However, it has been widely recognized as a gaping hole in the lens roadmap for crop sensor camera bodies. Many of the lenses to choose from are either of sub-par quality, aren't really wide enough (especially considering the crop factor), or both. It's no wonder that a lens such as this one creates some excitement among landscape photographers who like to use crop sensor cameras.
Alright, I know that discussing lens specifications isn't the most exciting thing, but there are a few things you need to know about this lens in order to make an informed buying decision. Let's go over a few of the pertinent specs, but for a full rundown, click here.
As the name implies, the focal range for this lens is 10mm to 24mm. When the crop sensor of the Fuji X series cameras is factored in, that makes the effective focal length about 15mm to 36mm. In other words, it will have a similar field of view to the very popular 16-35mm lenses in the Nikon and Canon line-up. Check out this Photo Taco podcast episode where Jeff Harmon discusses how lenses behave differently on crop sensor cameras compared to full frame.
This Fuji lens is a constant aperture lens, meaning it can maintain a maximum aperture of f/4 throughout the zoom range. There are 7 aperture blades that control the size of the opening for the lens. The minimum aperture, or the smallest opening that can be achieved is f/22.
The lens has a minimum focus distance of just over 9 inches. That means you can really get up close and personal with whatever you are shooting. This doesn't mean it will be mistaken for a macro lens, but it will allow you to get some strong foreground subjects for landscape shots.
Filter size is important, especially for landscape photographers. There are times you will want to use a circular polarizer or a neutral density filter on the lens. For this lens, the filter size is 72mm. The best option is to buy the largest diameter filters available and use step up rings on the lens. That will allow you to use the same filter on multiple lenses instead of buying one for each different thread diameter.
One thing I noticed right away about the Fuji 10-24mm is the weight. When the UPS delivery driver handed me the box, I knew it contained the lens, but it seemed really light. I opened the box right away to make sure the lens was actually in there. The Fuji lens weighs in at 410 grams, which is just under a pound. By comparison, both the Canon and Nikon versions of the 16-35mm f/4 lens weigh well over 600 grams. Those lenses are for full frame cameras, though. Other crop sensor options include the Tokina 11-16mm lens, which weighs in at 550 grams, and the Tamron 10-24mm lens, weighing in at only 406 grams. The Tokina has a constant aperture of f/2.8 and the Tamron is a variable aperture (f/3.5-4.5) lens.
The build quality of this lens seems to be quite good. With the exception of a few bits and pieces, the lens is made primarily of metal and feels really solid in the hand. The lens has three rings: the common zoom and focus control rings and a separate ring to control the aperture of the lens. The metal aperture ring is located closest to the camera body and turns easily. Almost too easily. The aperture ring can easily be moved inadvertently when jostling the camera in and out of the camera bag. Probably not a big deal as long as you remember to check the aperture setting. Also note that the aperture numbers are not shown on the lens as with many other Fuji lenses. Furthermore, the aperture control ring has no hard stops. It turns infinitely, so you have no real idea of your aperture setting without looking in the viewfinder or LCD screen. The zoom control ring is the widest ring and has a rubberized coating. The focus ring is all metal and is located nearest the lens front element. Both the zoom and focus rings turn very smoothly and have a nice solid feel.
One of the biggest downsides to this lens is that it doesn't carry the “WR” designation, which is an indicator of a weather resistant lens in the Fuji lineup. This hasn't proven to be a problem so far, but then again, I haven't tempted fate by shooting in wet conditions with this lens. I assume that Fuji will update the lens at some point, or perhaps introduce a new wide angle with weather sealing.
Ease of Use
The Fuji 10-24mm lens is a relatively small and light lens. However, it is still a substantial lens. It is very well balanced when paired with the XT-1 and is easily carried around for hours of landscape shooting or architecture. Or just about anything else you can throw at it. It's easy to use and fast to focus. That makes this a fun lens to have around.
There are two switches on the side of this lens; one to toggle Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) on and off and one to switch between manual and automatic aperture control. I typically have OIS turned on and always have the aperture switch on manual control. For me, I like having the ability to control the aperture manually to achieve the desired depth of field. With the aperture ring on the lens, it is very easy to change the aperture. Each click of the aperture ring changes the aperture by 1/3 of a stop, as seen in the viewfinder or on the LCD screen.
Changing the focal length on the lens is a breeze, with the nice and wide zoom ring and the rubberized coating for easy grip. I would say that the zoom ring is a bit stiff, especially at first, but that helps to prevent accidental changes. This lens has internal zoom and focusing, so there are no physical changes to the outside of the lens when performing these actions.
In the Field
This lens really excels at landscape photography. I have found that most of my time with the lens is spent at the wider end, from about 10mm to 16mm. Based on the reviews of others, this also happens to be where this lens performs best. Sharpness is good across the frame at the widest setting to the middle part of the zoom range. This is especially true when shooting 1 to 2 stops from wide open (f/5.6 to f/8). Color is also very good, with no noticeable color cast. There is some distortion at the wider end, which is not unusual for wide angle lenses. Distortion is most noticeable when shooting with the lens angled up or down, but can be compensated with a few tweaks in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.
I'll admit that I'm a sucker for including “sun stars” in my landscape images. These are created by shooting toward the sun, with the sun just peeking around the edge of some object. Just some quick tips when doing this – make sure the front lens element is as clean as possible when doing this or those specks of dust will cause sun flares in the image. Also, if there is dust on the camera's sensor (and there probably are), then they will show up as dark blobs in the brighter areas of the image with the aperture stopped down. These aren't issues specific to this lens, just some general tips for this type of shooting. The sun stars are quite good with this lens at an aperture of f/13 and smaller. They are most pronounced at f/22. Some would say to not close down the aperture that far, but it doesn't bother me in certain situations.
Since the lens has a maximum aperture of f/4, it is not considered a super fast lens. However, if your primary use for the lens is shooting landscapes, you will be stopped down to f/8 or f/11 most of the time anyway. When not on a tripod and in poor lighting conditions, I've been able to achieve acceptably sharp images with shutter speeds as slow as 1/4 second. This is due in part to the characteristics of wide angle lenses, but the OIS system is also at work here. The OIS makes a very faint whirring sound that is not likely to be noticed in most situations.
The Fujinon 10-24mm f/4 is not a particularly cheap lens. Coming in at a retail price 0f $999, it is on par with the Canon and Nikon 16-35mm f/4 lenses, but more expensive than some third party offerings. However, considering the build quality and the performance of the lens, it is worth the price in my opinion. Right now, Fuji is offering the lens at a sale price of $799. If you can pick one up at that price, or perhaps a good used copy, I say go for it. If you shoot landscape or architecture, you won't be disappointed.
As with any lens or camera, there just isn't that perfect piece of gear. I really like this lens, but there are a few things I wish were different.
- Build quality – all metal construction; this lens feels really solid.
- Size & weight – the lens has a nice heft, but still quite light.
- Ergonomics – at least mounted to the Fuji XT-1, it is very well balanced and feels great in the hands.
- Image quality – nice and sharp to the edges, especially with the aperture closed down a stop of two from wide open.
- No weather sealing! I'm not sure why Fuji would not include weather sealing on their premier wide angle landscape lens.
- Infinite aperture ring – there are no hard stops and the aperture numbers are not printed on the lens barrel. Not a huge deal, but something I really like about some of Fuji's other lenses.
In my opinion, the likes far outweigh the dislikes for this lens. If you are a Fuji shooter, and especially if you shoot landscapes, this is a great lens to have in the bag. It is getting a little old, so I suspect that it will be updated sooner than later. But for now, I'll keep shooting and enjoying it.